Starting a career in theatre: Becoming a West End performer​

Join the ProRefero Blog mailing list and receive additional information and professional tips straight to your inbox. Plus, the opportunity for one-to-one mentoring.


Stevie Tate-Bauer’s exciting theatre career spans many years and numerous high-profile credits. Stevie has performed in shows in the West End and across the UK including Oliver, Footloose, Grease, Lord of the Rings and then finally her dream job of understudying and playing the role of Elphaba in Wicked! 

As well as the above shows, Stevie Tate-Bauer has also performed as a vocalist around the world, in countries such as Malaysia, Dubai, America and Jersey.

The wonderful thing about having a career on the stage is that it can take you absolutely anywhere!

Article by Stevie Tate-Bauer

I trained in Musical Theatre at the acclaimed Arts Educational Schools in Chiswick, London. After graduating in 2002, my career started on the high seas as I joined the P&O cruise ship, Aurora, as one of their lead vocalists. This was a 6-month contract and a great job to introduce me to the “world of a performer”.

I learned so much about myself on that contract, as well as the industry. It also helped build my confidence.

I always had a flair for performing and have many “embarrassing” videos of myself as a child to prove it! I was forever putting on shows for my family as well as gaining experience with the local amateur dramatics company, in their many productions. The role of Annie was my first big role when I was 11 years old!! I also joined Stage Coach when I was 12, as this was the number one “theatre school” training back in my day. Nowadays, there are so many to choose from – all of them offering really great experience and training to help you get onto that “performing arts” platform!

From leaving college, I was lucky enough to work solidly for the first 2 years of my career. I progressed from lead vocalist on a cruise ship to UK tour with the musical ‘The Full Monty’. This was my first job in the UK and I played the role of Jo, as well as understudying the lead female character. This was possibly one of the best contracts I have ever worked on. The cast were all fantastic – many of them had lots of incredible experience. I felt really honoured and privileged to even be a part of that show.

I then went straight into playing the role of Charlotte Sowerberry in Oliver, firstly in Malaysia and then at the Theatre Royal in Lincoln. Everything was great!!! But then my 3rd year kicked in and my career hit a wall. I thought I was on a roll and there was no stopping me, but then it all went very quiet. I just wasn’t getting the work and had to go back to the reliable jobs of waiting on tables and bar work. This was a tough year, as I struggled juggling work with auditions, sometimes getting close to that big break but then getting knocked back down again. It was really tough!!

Finally, after a year with hardly any performing work, apart from the odd singing job, I landed a role that would change the direction of my career forever. I landed the amazing part of Rusty in the UK tour of ‘Footloose’. My first lead role!!! Finally, I was taken seriously again as a performer and after a year on the road, the show came into the West End for 7 months. I was finally living my dream – My West End career had arrived!!! Anything now would just be a bonus…. And it just got better and better.

From Footloose, I joined the original cast of Lord of the Rings at Drury Lane, understudying the role of Galadriel, which was played by Laura Michelle Kelly. Being a part of an original company, working on something so fresh and new, and helping mould and create a masterpiece, has been one of the major highlights of my career. Not to mention all the circus skills we had to train in!! This show was out of this world and a true honour to be a part of. I was lucky enough to play the role of Galadriel over 80 times during my contract and finally I was getting recognised in the industry as a lead artist. Which lead to my next role…..understudying Elphaba in my dream show, Wicked!

stb4

Who has most influenced your career and why?

Karen Bruce – West End Choreographer and Director extraordinaire! She gave me my first big break in Footloose and for that, I have a lot to thank her for!

What were your early career goals and how close are you to meeting them?

My early career goal was to play a lead in a West End show. I have now played 3, so I don’t think I’ve done too badly.

How have your goals developed as your career has progressed?

I would say that for any female performer in the musical theatre industry, getting to play the role of Elphaba is probably one of the top parts there is. The roles I played before then helped me grow as a performer, enabling me to take on such an incredible character.

What would you do differently if you could and why?

Nothing. Things happen for a reason. I am extremely happy with how my career has turned out.

Can you list some useful character attributes that you like to see in new aspiring theatre professionals?

Politeness, kindness, selflessness, focus, determination, strength, confidence, humble, committed, professional.

How has the industry changed since you began working in theatre?

It’s become rather oversaturated!!! There are so many incredible colleges out there, producing incredible performers. It’s always been a tough industry, but I believe it’s getting tougher.

What direction do you think ‘theatre’ will go?

With all the incredible effects that can be created nowadays, through lighting, sound, projections etc, I really hope theatre doesn’t lose its honesty and truth.

stb2

What are your 5 top tips for earning a living in theatre

  1. Be a nice person
  2. Work hard
  3. Keep your skills well exercised – take regular singing, dancing, acting lessons.
  4. Be punctual
  5. Believe in yourself

What are the top 3 moments in your life so far?

  1. Giving birth to my son
  2. Getting married
  3. Wicked – Playing Elphaba

Quick tips for auditions:

  • Get there early
  • Be prepared
  • Smile and be friendly

 


If you found this article useful then please like, comment and share with others. 

If you want to receive more articles on how to get ahead and succeed in the theatre industry, please subscribe

4 comments

  1. Lovely inspirational article. I am on the Committee of Birmingham Youth Theatre. I have the pleasure of helping to run this amazingly friendly company. There is so much talent but confidence is something some of them find hard. We are privelaged to have amazing professionals working with the kids. But reading and hearing about others journeys can really help in expanding our ability to bing the best out in them all. If you ever fancy giving a masterclas we would be very grateful to have you come and chat to the youngsters aged between 9 and 18 x

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s